At the Crossroads: Anyone Bring a Flashlight?

A day in the life of one witch’s attempts at community organizing, group leadership, public Paganism, and joyous shenanigans. Balancing inner work with external obligations, a professional career with public Paganism, and a full social calendar with gratuitous amounts of sleep.

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Magical Mystic South

Mystic South is a new (and awesome!) Pagan conference that was recently held earlier this summer in balmy, bustling Atlanta, Georgia.  I’ve never been to a big Pagan festival or conference, and every year Southern and East Coast folks are tempted with stories of PantheaCon or Many Gods West, much to our consternation.  Imagine how thrilled I was when friends sent me a link to a big event that was (mostly) local!

The Mystic South founders wrote on their website that when creating the conference they were focused on offering a “Southern-based conference – one that was not only [easy] to attend but also had a Southern flair and spoke of the mystic spirit of our own part of the country.  Since there [was] no such event to meet that need, we decided to create it.”  As a bona fide Southern Pagan, I was ecstatic for the chance to attend a conference that was local, affordable, and also spoke to my concerns as a Pagan practitioner and priestess living in the South.  I was also intrigued by a key concept – these folks saw a genuine need in our community and decided to step up and fill that need.  This is so, so incredibly impressive and inspiring to me!  I am humbled by their work and dedication to such an undertaking!

Community and networking, as well as a local-focus, are really important to the folks in my local Pagan groups.  After months of poking at them and twisting their arms, I managed to rally my Druids and some other Local Friends to meet me down at Mystic South.  We spent a few, glorious, action-packed days together down in Atlanta, living the Pagan (Southern) Dream.

After many (failed) attempts, I realized that I can’t possibly do this event justice.  Nevertheless, here is a quick re-cap of my experience of Mystic South:



  • After a busy week at work, I managed to wake up early-ish.  My Druids picked me up, and our car-ride turned into an impromptu/important decision-making meeting where we discussed the potential future(s) of one of our local Pagan groups.  Of course, when the three of us gather it’s hard to not having a business meeting, but this conversation set the tone for an important theme of the weekend – how do we serve our community while also meeting our own interests and needs?
  • We ate amazing BBQ in South Carolina.  Wow!
  • We checked into the hotel and registered for the conference.  Wow!  The Mystic South folks sure are friendly!  Southern hospitality combined with Pagan hospitality is absolutely something to be proud of.
  • My Local Friends who were also attending Mystic South bought me a cocktail at one of the hotel bars, and then we all had a great meal together.  We were as excited as kids on Christmas Eve – maybe even more so.  We all used markers, pens, and highlighters to mark-up our Mystic South programs, negotiating who would attend which workshop so we’d have optimal spread, experience, and exposure over the weekend.
  • Some of us popped into the Wild Hunt informal meet-and-greet, where we enjoyed ghost pepper hors d’oeuvres, white wine, and Georgia peaches.  
  • Me and my Druids stayed up way too late on Thursday night talking – we were too excited to sleep!


  • Huzzah!  Today is the day!  Today is the day!  Today is the day!
  • My Druids attended an early morning event called “Faery Seership Breathwork.”  They later told me how important this offering was to them, especially as a way to ensure that they didn’t neglect their daily spiritual practices while away from home.  With such a busy weekend, they told me that they really valued something calm and centering, especially as a way to start the day.
  • Of course, I slept in while my Druids were being uber-spiritual and enlightened.
  • My first workshop was facilitated by a physicist.  Science plus Paganism?  Yes, please!
  • I told myself I wouldn’t bring my wallet downstairs with me and that I’d wait to look at the vendors’ room until the last day of the conference.  (You know, to avoid temptation.)  Of course, I wandered into the vendors’ room, which was full of delights.  I stumbled upon some amazing artwork I couldn’t live without.  This is why credit cards were invented, right?
  • I attended lectures facilitated by Orion Foxwood, Byron Ballard, and Heather Greene.  I might have had a few fan-girl moments, but I was able to keep my cool (for the most part.)  Southern Pagans are all great storytellers. 
  • The highlight of the whole conference for me were the PAPERS (Pagan and Polytheist Educational Research Symposium) presentations.  Pagan and Polytheists academics researching and presenting on Paganism seems almost too good to be true!  Professional, thought-provoking, important, and useful – I can’t wait to see more from PAPERS in the coming years.  These were my favorite presentations for the whole weekend.
  • After a long, exhausting, and wonderful day, my Druids, Local Friends, and I gathered at a nearby pub for Scotch eggs, cider, lager, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie.  We might have ordered four desserts and maybe there was some whiskey involved. 
  • Everyone went to a ritual with Jason and Ari Mankey that evening, but I stayed back in our room to go over my own presentation.  When my Druids came back to the room I asked them “so, what was the ritual like?”  They said, “It was great.  We got a rock.”  Allegedly this ritual is super-duper secret and this is exactly what Jason Mankey told them to say.  It’s hard to argue with something like that.  (I can confirm that they all got rocks – I saw a few of them.)


  • Ahhhhh!!! I stayed in our room and freaked out a bit about the presentation I’d be giving later on that day.
  • I managed to wander in and out of a few more workshops – notably Dorothy Morrison and John Beckett.  John Beckett is an engaging public speaker.  His talk reminded me of a good and uplifting sermon, and I could really recognize the Unitarian Universalist style in his delivery.  He was surprisingly funny.
  • I spent the afternoon giving my own presentation, spending more time in the PAPERS conference room, impulse-buying books, and networking with some great folks who are doing fun and inspiring things in their communities back home.  That now-familiar theme came up again - how do we serve our community while also meeting our own interests and needs?  No clear answers emerged from these conversations, but upon looking back I feel comforted in the knowledge that I am not alone in asking these questions - we all are.
  • Local Friends and I had dinner and enjoyed some more drinks.  I went back to our room to reapply eyeliner, use some of Dorothy Morrison’s "Red Stilettos" mojo spray, and to fill a travel coffee mug full of cheap wine.  I was fashionably late to the Tuatha Dea concert and was a little disappointed that more people weren’t dancing.  They gave a great show, though, and that’s not just the wine talking. 
  • I tried to sneak back into the hotel room without waking up the Druids, but I failed at that.  We then spent the next few hours talking and talking and talking about how great our days were.  “This happened!  And then this!  And then this!  Don’t forget that!”
  • Not a lot of sleep was had this night.


  • I slept so late!  Yikes!  Who knew I could pack up all of my stuff in under 15 minutes?
  • I finally made it downstairs and I had a really important moment at the “Ecstatic Trance Ritual Body Postures” workshop.  I don’t tend to use special postures while meditating, but the Bear Pose presented in this workshop really did help me to reach some clarity regarding some important focus in my personal life.  (“How do we serve our community while also meeting our own interests and needs?”)
  • Upon the recommendation of one of my Druids I ended up in a workshop about Life Phases, where I received an initiation of sorts from some lovely folks out of Tennessee.  This was not at all what I was expecting from the weekend, but in the moment I had that little voice telling me “yes!  This is right!”  Again, there are so many amazing, hardworking, and talented folks out there who are doing great things in their local Pagan communities.  It is truly inspiring and humbling!
  • Somehow I managed to find myself back in the vendor’s room, and I enjoyed a few more amazing and unique workshops before we all found ourselves reluctantly piling into the Druids’ car.  That’s one thing about Mystic South that really impressed me – the workshops were for all levels of experiences, were multi-tradition, and were overwhelmingly unique.  This proved to me how varied, diverse, and wonderful our Southern Pagan traditions are, and how our communities are alive and vibrant, despite any potential (and often real) adversity coming from the “Uber Culture.”  Good job, Southern Pagans!
  • Once in the car, we missed our exit, got stuck in some terrible and scary weather, enjoyed some cheap Mexican food, and dove right into that now familiar theme again: “how do we serve our community while also meeting our own interests and needs?”
  • And in no time… home again, home again, jiggity jig!


When I sat down this week to write in my journal, I decided it was time to dive deep into my experiences at Mystic South.  I found, however, that it was hard to put that weekend into words.  That’s the thing with experiences, you know?  They are an experience – they are beyond thoughts and writing and they exist more in the realm of feeling and heart. 

Mystic South was an experience, and putting an experience into words ultimately dilutes it.  But we’re a few weeks out now.  July is passing into August, and August gazing upon a Southern autumn filled with its own unique charms.  I’ve been asking myself “what now?”  After having the honor and privilege of not only attending, but presenting at, Mystic South, what now?  After this experience, what do I bring with me into my own personal life and practice?  And also, what do I bring with me into my community

I’m not really sure how to answer these questions.  In a lot of ways Mystic South gave me more questions than answers.  But I do know that my perspective on Southern Paganism has been fundamentally changed.  In appreciation for our Southern Paganism, for this hot and balmy land, for our ancestors of blood (or ancestors of spirit for folks like me who are transplants to this region), I’ve been giving daily offerings to my land spirits and house wights.  It’s a small step, but it’s an important one, I think.  Offerings are something actionable and devotional, rather than cerebral and theoretic, and they really are very meaningful and powerful.

As far as what I bring back to my community?  I’m not sure yet.  This question has yet to be answered, and is perhaps, and more likely, on-going.  I know I had a great weekend with my friends, and I know that I wish more local people had attended.  We hope we can convince more local folks to come down with us next year.  We have so much to be proud of in our little Southern Pagan community, and I want the rest of the region to know how amazing we are!

“I want to live in a majority-Pagan world,” one of my Druids recently wrote on her Tumblr, sharing her own reflections on Mystic South.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot, how it’s just wonderful to spend time with Pagans and Polytheists, to be so openly and un-abashedly yourself, and to share the magical traditions of our families, region, covens, and circles.  I realized, more than ever, the importance of a gathering of equals, of meeting Pagan clergy and leaders who are engaged in the Hard Work, and to meet engage with elders who have been where you are, to remind you that you don’t need to re-invent the wheel, and that you are not alone.  And, yes, it was fun to meet some Big Name Pagans, too. 

Mystic South gave me the question “how do we serve our community while also meeting our own interests and needs?”  The answers I received include, but are not limited to, themes of self-care, community, storytelling, and ingenuitive folk magic.  (These were all themes included in the sweet, simple, multi-tradition closing ritual.)  Most of all, Mystic South, focused on the distinctiveness of Southern Paganism, giving me a greater appreciation and respect for our unique history with an emphasis on moving forward, ever forward.

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Trivia is a social worker, freelance writer, minister, and priestess. She loves to have a good adventure. Follow her exploits on Twitter ( and on Tumblr (!
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